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Intermediate level

Pronouncing '-s' and '-ed' endings

Episode 200228 / 28 Feb 2020

This week's question

When should we use /z/ for ‘s’ endings? How do we pronounce ‘-ed’ endings? - Nahid

Answer this

The past of the verb 'to help' sounds like: /t/ or /d/?

Language points

Where do you find '-s' endings?

Plural nouns: boots, trees, watches

3rd person verbs: claps. swims, finishes

Possessives: Chris', Phillip's, Dan's

Contractions used with the verbs 'is' or 'has'.

  • The dog's barking. (is)
  • The teacher's arrived. (has)

 '-s' or '-es' endings have 3 possible sounds: /s/   /z/   /ɪz/

To know which sound to use, you look at the previous sound to know if it is 'voiced', 'unvoiced' or 'other'. To check which is which, watch the video - it's all about vibration in your throat.

unvoiced? + /s/

  • boot - boots
  • clap - claps
  • chest - chests

voiced? + /z/

  • tree - trees
  • swim - swims
  • Dan - Dan's

If the previous word ends with any of these sounds: /s/ /z/ /ʃ/ /ʒ/ /tʃ/ /ʤ/ the sound of the 's' ending will be /ɪz/

  • watch - watches
  • miss - misses
  • finish - finishes

Where do you find '-ed' endings?

It is added to an infinitive verb to make a regular past or past participle verb. 

'-ed' can have one of 3 possible sounds: /t/   /d/   /ɪd/

To know which sound to use? It's based on the last sound of the infinitive verb. It can be 'voiced', 'unvoiced' or 'other'.

Verbs which finish with an unvoiced sound take the sound /t/

  • ask - asked
  • help - helped
  • stop - stopped

Verbs which finish with a voiced sound take the sound /d/

  • close - closed
  • play - played
  • arrive - arrived

If the infinitive verb finishes with the sound /t/ or /d/ the '-ed' ending will sound like /ɪd/

  • want - wanted
  • wait - waited 
  • need - needed

The answer

The past of the verb 'to help' is 'helped' and the '-ed' sounds like /t/.

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